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DSM seeks Asian partners; welcomes J&J Crucell takeover

By Gareth Macdonald , 23-Sep-2010
Last updated on 13-Jan-2011 at 17:27 GMT

DSM aims to keep pace with the rapid evolution of pharmaceutical sector through increased partnering and a focus on Asia.

The Netherlands-based life and materials sciences firm outlined the plan in a strategy document released today, in which it admitted its pharma business “faced considerable challenges due to a shifting pharma landscape.”

DSM Board member Stephan Tanda told in-PharmaTechnologist that a slowdown in new drug approvals and increasing pressure on the traditional blockbuster model are driving rapid change in the pharmaceutical sector.

This change, he continued, means DSM’s custom manufacturing unit sees fewer opportunities to work with innovative pharmaceutical companies than it has done previously as, increasingly, such firms seek contracting partners in regions where costs are lower..

Tanda explained that, in response, DSM would seek more partnerships in Asia to boost its contract manufacturing business, adding that the firm is already in talks with a number of potential collaborators.

Asia will also be a focus for DSM’s anti-infectives unitaccording to Tanda; particularly China where the firm is currently building a new 6-APA manufacturing plant that, he said, would makes the business less dependent on external sources of penicillin.

He predicted that, the firm’s new facility aside, there will be consolidation in the Asian anti-infectives sector due to overcapacity in the region, explaining that DSM is looking to be a part of this transition through partnerships and small-scale acquisitions.

Crucell partnership

Growth through partnership also seems to be on the agenda for DSM’s wider business if the expansion of its collaboration with Crucell is any indication.

In separate news, DSM and Crucell said they will transform their Percivia Per.C6 Devevelopment Center joint-venture (JV) into a full biopharma by adding capacity for biobetter protein drugs and monoclonal antibodies.

The JV, founded as a vehicle for the firms' PER.C6 human cell line manufacturing technology licensing business, will now undertake proprietary development of proteins for early clinical development under the Percivia brand.

Obviously this is significant news for drugmakers that use PER.C6 like Novartis and Wyeth, but it is also of interest to US healthcare major Johnson & Johnson which, earlier this month , announced plans to buy Crucell for $2.3bn.

Tanda also acknowledged this point, explaining that he can only see positives for Percivia coming from J&J's acquisition of Crucell.